RIYADH: The truce in Yemen must be extended, but the actions of the Houthi militia seem to indicate they do not want to lengthen the ceasefire beyond its expiry, the Saudi foreign minister said on Friday.
“We think it must be extended. However, the signs are not positive at this point,” said Prince Faisal bin Farhan. “Unfortunately, the indications we are seeing from the Houthis are that they do not intend to cooperate in an extension.”
He said the Iran-backed militia had failed to fulfil the commitments of the current agreement, and have now put forward demands that are unreasonable.
“I am very concerned by these developments because we will lose the momentum,” he added. “We are fully engaged with the UN representative and with others who are trying to convince the Houthis to extend the truce. Right now, the indications are worrying.”
A truce between the Houthis and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen was brokered by the UN in April and is set to end on Oct. 2.
The truce has brought a semblance of normality for Yemenis, and has enabled the government to begin providing more services to the public.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi, chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, said diplomacy has been wasted on the Houthis, who have repeatedly disregarded their treaty commitments.
Prince Faisal said the truce had created the possibility for wider peace in Yemen. “We have an opportunity here to build on a truce to work towards a permanent ceasefire, towards political dialogue. It is hard for me to understand why the Houthis would turn this down,” he said, adding that the militia’s proposals indicate “that they are looking for an excuse.”
The build-up of armaments as well as probing attacks on the frontlines by Houthi fighters indicate that they are seriously considering not renewing the truce, he told France 24 in New York.
When asked if war was back on the horizon in Yemen, he said: “Unfortunately, this seems to be what the Houthis want.”
The foreign minister reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, but said his country will do what is needed to defend its people if the Houthis return to hostilities.
“We are of course committed to a resolution of this conflict. We are committed primarily to a truce but, of course, if we have to defend ourselves we will,” he said.